New technologies to counter global terrorism


A workshop on critical infrastructure protection was co-organised by the Belgian industry and the Belgian Defence in the Groenveld Barracks in Melsbroek on September 21st, 2006. The workshop was organised in the framework of NATO’s Programme of Work for Defence against Terrorism (POW DAT). This programme comprises 10 initiatives around subjects that are all very topical since 9/11:


-          protection of large-body aircraft;

-          protection of helicopters against rocket propelled grenades;

-          precision air-drop technology for special operations forces;

-          detection, protection and defeat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons;

-          explosive ordnance disposal and consequence management;

-          countering improvised explosive devises;

-          intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition of terrorists;

-          defence against mortar attack;

-          critical infrastructure protection;

-          protection of ports, harbours and vessels.


Belgium is lead country for the CIP-initiative (critical infrastructure protection), a choice inspired by Belgium’s location in the centre of Western Europe, making it a crossroads for transport, communication, energy supply and command & control.


The key approach of the CIP-initiative focuses on improving national concepts, doctrines and plans of action for countering global terrorism and on making them interoperable between all NATO member states. The basis for interoperability lies with equipment. That is why the programme starts with making a review of existing and emerging state-of-the-art technologies to fulfil the military’s needs in its fight against global terrorism. In a second phase, it will define the technological gaps to cover all aspects of this fight. Finally, the group will make recommendations to come to the most adequate, common solution to fill these gaps with the most adequate technologies.


The workshop in Melsbroek aimed at showcasing the technologies in which Belgian industry already excels and continuously invests to maintain its spearhead position. Ten Belgian companies and two military units (the Belgian Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit and the Defence Laboratories Department) successfully presented state-of-the-art, but nonetheless practical and operational applications of their research efforts to numerous delegations of other NATO member states participating in the CIP-initiative, as well as to the top brass of the Belgian military:


-          Alcatel Alenia Space (infosec and network centric systems);

-          Barco (visualisation products);

-          Belgian Advance Technology Systems (border and perimeter protection systems);

-          Fabricom GTI (detection and surveillance systems);

-          Honeywell (fire and security solutions, perimeter and building surveillance);

-          OIP Sensor Systems (electro-optical equipment);

-          Siemens (access control and surveillance);

-          Telindus (ICT solutions and services);

-          VR Context (real-time visualisation and simulation);

-          VSK Group (access control, intruder detection, video recording and fire detection).



One of the Belgian companies present at the POW DAT – CIP workshop was Aerodata Surveys. The company provides geo-information products for numerous applications in the fight against terrorism. One of these products are high quality digital colour, black and white and infrared aerial photographs. To produce these, it operates one of the former Belgian Air Component Swearingen Merlin IIIA aircraft.


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 Text and picture by

© Jos Schoofs (September 2006)

Last updated 22/09/06 10:42   Daniel Brackx